(MedicalNewsToday) Study leader Dr. Giovanni Marsicano, of the University of Bordeaux in France, and team believe their findings – published in the journal Nature – may lead to the development of new therapeutics that target cannabinoid receptors, without the side effect of memory loss.
In the new study, Dr. Marsicano and team further explored the relationship between cannabinoids and memory loss.
CB1 cannabinoid receptors in mitochondria regulate memory processes
In recent years, researchers discovered that one cannabinoid receptor called CB1 is located in the mitochondria of nerve cells. Mitochondria are referred to as the “powerhouses” of cells, as they convert the sugar, fat, and proteins we get from food into energy that cells need to function.
For their study, Dr. Marsicano and colleagues used a variety of innovative methods to find that there are CB1 receptors within the mitochondria of hippocampal neurons, and cannabinoids activate these to cause memory loss.
On further investigation, the researchers found that the memory loss triggered by cannabinoids is down to direct activation of CB1 receptors in the mitochondria, which alters mitochondrial activity. CB1 activation blocks the cannabinoid signaling cascade within mitochondria, and it also reduces cellular respiration – a process that enables the conversion of nutrients into energy.
In simple terms, the study shows that CB1 cannabinoid receptors in mitochondria control memory processes by adjusting the energy metabolism of mitochondria.
Confirming their findings, the team discovered that genetically eliminating the CB1 receptor from mitochondria in the hippocampus prevents memory loss. It also reduces the movement of mitochondria and the inhibition of neuronal signaling caused by cannabinoids.